It is safe to say that I would not be the hockey fan I am today had I not grown up watching the AHL play in my hometown. The Binghamton Whalers (affiliated with the now-moved-to-North-Carolina-and-renamed-the-Hurricanes Hartford Whalers) were the team I remember most, but neither they, nor the Dusters before them, nor the Rangers after them ever brought a Calder Cup championship to Binghamton. That honor would go to the Senators — and just two years ago.
Tonight, I got to see that cup, with my my hometown’s name engraved on it, at the AHL Showcase* game played at Verizon Center.
If you’ve ever seen the commercials on TV with the very formal-looking, white-gloved man who accompanies the Stanley Cup around, you can be assured that the Calder Cup puts on no such airs. It was monitored by a mostly-distracted young woman, so you could actually touch it if you wanted to. She did take my picture with the cup, however, so she’s all right by me.
* The AHL Showcase was supposed to be a bonus this year – an opportunity for the Caps’ minor-league team to play before the big club’s fans in the middle of the season. Of course, because of the lockout, it may be the only game I see at Verizon Center this year.